KiwiRail spends more than NZ$335,000 in enforceable undertaking after incident on ferry

Kaiarahi (Photo: Willis)

Maritime NZ has accepted an enforceable undertaking (EU) from KiwiRail, which will spend NZ$335,746, plus financial amends and costs of support to the victim, as the result of an incident on the ferry Kaiarahi in April 2019.

Maritime NZ’s Central Region Compliance Manager, Michael-Paul Abbott, said a crewmember slipped in Kaiarahi‘s hydraulics room, breaking the main bone in one of his legs, the femur, in two places.

The injury required surgery and the insertion of rods and screws to align the bone. The crewmember was off work for 15 weeks and three days before returning to duties.

Maritime NZ said the floor in the hydraulics room was found to have insufficient non-skid surfacing and there was no anti-slip grating in place.

KiwiRail supported the injured crewmember throughout his time off work, and also paid financial amends. KiwiRail has also fixed the problem on Kaiarahi, and introduced testing and remediation to protect crew from similar incidents on its other ferries, and for passengers and workers at ferry terminals.

In addition, included in the EU is an undertaking to provide NZ$250,000 to the Marlborough District Council. The money will be used to implement a Marlborough Sounds-wide system to provide real time monitoring of tides, currents and water depths that all commercial shipping, fishing and aquaculture operators, and recreational boaties, will be able to use free of charge.

The system will also provide historical information and some modelling of future water movement.

The District Council has been looking to introduce such a system because of the dangers sudden changes and fast tides and currents pose in the Sounds.

This is only the second EU Maritime NZ has accepted under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA). The aim of EUs is to improve health and safety at a workplace and across an industry, and to remedy harm caused to workers and their families.

Maritime NZ consulted the worker and his family, as well as the Aviation and Marine Engineers Association as part of the EU process.

“EUs are legally enforceable agreements that can be used as an alternative to prosecution and are not an easy option,” Mr Abbott said. “They have to include making amends to the worker and family, fixing the workplace safety issue and an initiative which benefits the wider community.”

“We took into account KiwiRail’s support for the family, improvements across all its ferries and terminals, funding to Marlborough District Council to improve safety for all commercial and recreational users of the Sounds, and engagement with the worker’s union.”

Mr Abbott reinforced that, as well as the contribution to the Marlborough District Council, several other conditions had been included in the terms of the EU – developing and distributing a framework for friction testing on ships; continuing to carry out friction tests on ships and terminals; continually reviewing and prioritising resurfacing and repairs; and developing friction testing policy and procedures.

“These all have wider benefits for workers and the public,” said Mr Abbott.


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